People think in terms of images. Long before you learned how to speak a language, you were processing images. It’s instinctual to think in terms of images. When you talk with just words or numbers, the brain will often still translate what it receives over to a visual to make sense of it. When you speak in terms of images, the brain has to process less, since you’ve already done half of the work.
I spent a year taking boxing lessons. When the instructor was teaching me how to throw a cross punch, he said to twist my back foot as I follow through. That was sufficient enough, but not great. A few months later while watching Adam Carolla’s movie The Hammer, where he plays a boxing instructor, he gives advice to a student to twist their foot like they’re putting out a cigarette. That’s 100x easier to understand.
In yoga, instructors give different advice in how to engage in ujjayi (thanks Google) breathing. Some say to tighten the back of your throat and constrict your breathing. Another instructor said to breath through your nose like you’re inhaling through a straw and exhale like you’re trying to fog up a mirror. Again, the second example is 100x easier to understand.
The best jokes, the best stories, the best instructions, all lean heavily on communicating through imagery or mental images. Avoid confusion and become a better communicator by speaking directly to the visual part of the brain.
Side bar: I’m an image hoarder. For a year, I used Evernote for the sole purpose of collecting funny images/quotes. I never had a plan to use the image above, but it fit perfectly with this blog post (and it’s hilarious). That’s why I love collecting new information. I never know when I’m going to use it.